Tips on Staying in Shape Over Long Periods of Time
I work out and stay in shape because I want a healthy body for the rest of my life. It makes me feel confident about myself and my abilities. I also have more energy to accomplish the goals that I have in life. Before we begin, ask yourself this: Why do you work out or want to work out? Keep that answer in mind as we move forward.
Your goals will not work unless you do. I can’t imagine achieving anything in life without discipline. Try to use this knowledge to your advantage by understanding why you are making a decision to be or stay in shape. Why are you doing this in the first place? Write it down.
Now that you’ve given that some thought and have written it down, write down a goal and a deadline to accomplish it by. Now, working backwards from the goal’s deadline to today’s date, what smaller goals do you need to complete to accomplish your goal? Schedule them in your calendar. You will need them later.
Once you have decided that you will be staying in shape for the long-term and why, now you have to choose how to you plan on staying in shape. Let me share a little story:
I did 1 semester of boxing during college and it was the best workout that I have ever had! I always knew in my heart that I would return to it someday. Since then, I have tried playing different team sports, running and swimming. I liked swimming because I have never really dedicated myself to it before so I taught myself technical strokes by watching YouTube videos, bought the appropriate gear, worked out at my own pace, and strived for technical stroking perfection while having fun in the pool. Swimming is a life skill. In fact, I have seen individuals older than 50 years old do it regularly so I could do it for the rest of my life if I want. However, over time, I found it to be a lonely sport. After more than a year of swimming consistently, I decided that I needed something more people-oriented. Knowing my college boxing experience, I tried out a local mixed martial arts class at a nearby gym that had great Yelp reviews. I ended up falling in love with Muay Thai (kickboxing). Now, Muay Thai is the best workout that I have ever had in my life! I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else. I have had bouts of going to classes 5 days a week, training and recovering on the weekends to prepare for next week’s classes and am considering training in Thailand at least once in my life for fun. That’s how much I love it.
The lesson is do what works for you. If you haven’t found it yet, keep searching! Don’t settle until you are happy with your challenge. You will thank yourself later when you are looking forward to doing your exercise, rather than loathing it. I am probably the happiest Muay Thai class-attender you will meet, even when sparring! If you’re wondering, yes, I am planning on returning to swimming when I get older.
Make it Fun
Having fun will keep you going! For me, the interaction I get from the Muay Thai instructor and my fellow class-mates makes it fun. Varying the workouts and getting a good mix of experience levels definitely helps because I am constantly learning. Also, I would run on the beach during sunset on the weekends and during the week in the morning to watch the sunrise. The environment often makes your workout fun. What type of environment would be fun for you? Do you prefer indoors or outdoors?
Your trainer or instructor will go a long way towards making your exercise fun. If there is no trainer or instructor, you can get your friends or family involved so that will keep you entertained in the long-run as well. Who ever said working out has to be an individual effort?
Make it Easy
The fact that the Muay Thai gym was walking distance from my place was key. The convenience of getting a nice walk in before class while taking some time to enjoy the neighborhood was priceless. It also eliminated the possibility of me saying, “The gym is so far.” I had no excuses. I had to go. Take some time to explore the options near you before arriving at your final conclusion of what you want to do in the long-run to stay in shape.
After becoming serious about working out daily, I began analyzing my food intake. Am I taking in the right amount of protein and other nutrients now that I am working out more? After doing a lot of research online (I would recommend starting with www.livestrong.com), I concluded that I was not and added a supplement to my diet in addition to watching my food intake very closely.
While I cannot prescribe what eating healthy means to you, I will tell you that recovering from a workout and treating your body well during recovery is just as important, if not more important, than the workout itself. For me, eating healthy means drinking lots of water before, during, and after working out, not drinking sugary drinks and eating less junk food and fast food.
I am a foodie. I love eating and can talk about food for hours. While this is not the primary reason for working out, it certainly doesn’t hurt. As a foodie, I would often plan out my meal before my workout to help keep me incentivized.
Getting back to the point of finding something that you will do consistently for long periods of time, what will motivate you to work out? Setting high goals and achieving them? Having a human interaction component to the workout? Sweating profusely after every workout while having a smile on your face? Whatever it is, find the truth behind what motivates you and incorporate that element into your daily or weekly plan.
Once I found something that works for me, motivating myself became easier because, for the most part, I loved what I was doing. I didn’t mind doing it more often. In fact, I found ways to change my schedule to do it more often.
During a very healthy period of my life, I started realizing that the more exercise I was having, the more conscious of my water intake I became. The health authorities recommend ½ gallon of water daily. Are you getting in that much? I realized I wasn’t so I created a plan. I would fill up a water bottle first thing in the morning and drink it. Then, once I got to work, I would fill it up again and drink it throughout the morning. I would take a short break in the afternoon or lunch to re-fill and so on. This ensured I got the proper amount of liquid to re-hydrate my body when not working out. What’s your plan?
I hope this helps everyone achieve their long-term goals. Best of luck and have a lot of fun while staying in shape!
If you are interested in getting motivated, start by watching this YouTube video: